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natural philosophy, he would laugh “that a creature pretending to reason should value itself upon the knowledge of other people's conjectures, and in things where that knowledge, if it were certain, could be of
Wherein he agreed entirely with the sentiments of Socrates, as Plato delivers them ; which I mention as the highest honour I can do to that prince of philosophers. I have often since reflected what destruction such doctrine would make in the libraries of Europe, and how many paths to fame would be then shut up in the learned world.
Friendship and benevolence are the two principal virtues among the Houyhnhnms; and these not confined to particular objects, but universal to the whole race : for a stranger from the remotest part is equally treated with the nearest neighbour, and, wherever he goes, looks upon himself as at home. They preserve decency and civility in the highest degrees, but are altogether ignorant of ceremony. They have no fondness for their colts or foals, but the care they take in educating them proceeds entirely from the dictates of reason. And I observed my master to show the same affection to his neighbour's issue, that he had for his own. They will have it that nature teaches them to love the whole species, and it is reason only that makes a distinction of persons where there is a superior degree of virtue.
When the matron Houyhnhnms have produced one of each sex, they no longer accompany with their consorts, except they lose one of their issue by some casualty, which very seldom happens. This caution is necessary to prevent the country from being overburdened with numbers. But the race of inferior
Houyhnhnms, bred up to be servants, is not so strictly limited upon this article ; these are allowed to produce three of each sex, to be domestics in the noble families.
In their marriages they are exactly careful to choose such colours as will not make any disagreeable mixture in the breed. Strength is chiefly valued in the male, and comeliness in the female ; not upon the account of love, but to preserve the race from degenerating; for where a female happens to excel in strength, a consort is chosen with regard to comeliness.
Courtship, love, presents, jointures, settlements, have no place in their thoughts, or terms whereby to express them in their language. The young couple meet and are joined, merely because it is the determination of their parents and friends; it is what they see done every day, and they look upon it as one of the necessary actions of a reasonable being. But the violation of marriage, or any other unchastity, was never heard of; and the married pair pass their lives with the same friendship and mutual benevolence that they bear to all others of the same species who come in their way, without jealousy, fondness, quarrelling, or discontent.
In educating the youth of both sexes, their method is admirable, and highly deserves our imitation. These are not suffered to taste a grain of oats, except upon certain days, till eighteen years old ; nor milk, but very rarely; and in summer they graze two hours in the morning, and as many in the evening, which their parents likewise observe : but the servants are not allowed above half that time, and a great part of their grass is brought home, which they eat at the
most convenient hours, when they can be best spared from work.
Temperance, industry, exercise, and cleanliness, are the lessons equally enjoined to the young ones of both sexes; and my master thought it monstrous in us to give the females a different kind of education from the males, except in articles of domestic management; whereby, as he truly observed, one half of our natives were good for nothing but bringing children into the world ; and to trust the care of our children to such useless animals, he said, was yet a greater instance of brutality.